Drought and a Prayer for Mercy
1The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:
And her gates languish;
Her people sit on the ground in mourning clothes
And the cry of Jerusalem has gone up.
“Their nobles have sent their servants for water;
They have come to the cisterns and found no water.
They have returned with empty vessels;
They have been shamed and humiliated,
And they cover their heads.
“The ground is cracked
Because there has been no rain on the land;
The farmers are distressed,
And they have covered their heads [in shame].
“The doe in the field has given birth only to abandon her young
Because there is no grass.
“And the wild donkeys stand on the barren heights;
They pant for air like jackals,
Their eyesight fails
Because there is no grass.
“O Lord, though our many sins testify against us” [prays Jeremiah],
“Act now [for us and] for Your name’s sake [so that the faithless may witness Your faithfulness]!
For our backslidings are countless;
We have sinned against You.
“O Hope of Israel,
Her Savior in time of distress and trouble,
Why should You be like a sojourner (temporary resident) in the land
Or like a traveler who turns aside and spreads his tent to linger [only] for a night?
“Why should You be [hesitant and inactive] like a man astounded and perplexed,
Like a mighty man unable to save?
Yet You, O Lord, are among us,
And we are called by Your name;
Do not leave us!”
10 Thus says the Lord to this people [Judah], “In the manner and to the degree [already pointed out] they have loved to wander; they have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will now remember [in detail] their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” 11 So the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for good things for this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry; and though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them [because they are done as obligations, and not as acts of loving obedience]. Instead I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”
13 But I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, the [false] prophets are telling them, ‘You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I [the Lord] will give you lasting peace in this place.’” 14 Then the Lord said to me, “The [counterfeit] prophets are prophesying lies in My Name. I have neither sent them nor authorized them nor spoken to them. They are prophesying to you made-up visions [pretending to call forth responses from handmade gods], a worthless divination and the deceit of their own mind. 15 Therefore, thus says the Lord concerning the [false] prophets who are prophesying in My Name, although I did not send them—yet they keep saying, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’: by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end and be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword; and they will have no one to bury them—neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters. For I will pour out their [own] wickedness on them [and not only on the imposters posing as prophets, for the people could not have been deceived without their own consent].
“Therefore [Jeremiah] you will say this word to them,
‘Let my eyes flow with tears night and day,
And let them never cease;
For the virgin daughter of my people has been crushed with a great blow,
With a very serious and severely infected wound.
‘If I go out into the field,
Then I gaze on those slaughtered with the sword!
And if I enter the city,
Then I gaze on [those tormented with] the diseases of famine!
For both prophet and priest [who should have guided the people]
Go about [bewildered and exiled] in a land (Babylon) that they do not know or understand.’”
Have You [O Lord] completely rejected Judah?
Do You loathe Zion?
Why have You stricken us so that there is no healing for us?
We looked for peace and completeness, but nothing good came;
And [we hoped] for a time of healing, but behold, terror!
We know and acknowledge, O Lord,
Our wickedness and the iniquity of our fathers; for we have sinned against You.
Do not treat us with contempt and condemn us, for Your own name’s sake;
Do not disgrace Your glorious throne;
Remember [with consideration] and do not break Your [solemn] covenant with us.
Are there any among the idols of the nations who can send rain?
Or can the heavens [of their own will] give showers?
Is it not You, O Lord our God?
Therefore we will wait and hope [confidently] in You,
For You are the one who has made all these things [the heavens and the rain].